I’m going to Japan and the fuckers at the airport stole my lotion! I swear I’ve been through airports a hundred times with all kinds of illegal liquids and I’ve never been stopped, and now they steal my lotion! They ran my bag like a hundred times through the scanner too.
But anyway. I’M WAITING FOR THE PLANE FOR JAPAN. I am so excited. I can hardly breathe. I have several places staked out. I want to go to Ginza, which is the shopping district. While I’m there, well actually before I go there, I want to go to the Tsukiji fish market. Apparently you can get the rawest, fishiest, Japanese-est sushi in the world there. Or I guess probably just slabs of raw fish. It sounds delicious and I definitely want to check there early, apparently the lines can get REALLY long.
I met Mackensie on couchsurfing and she lives in the Shunjuku area, which the Internet says is great for clubs and such so maybe I can meet up with her on Saturday night.
And last but not least, on probably Sunday I want to hit up Sensoji Temple and Ueno Park / Zoo because they are super close to the Chisun Inn in Asakusa, which is where I’m staying.
Also on my list are far-out places. I don’t want to go north because of the radiation, or I would go to Hokkaido. What I want to do near Tokyo is go to Kamakura, the place near Yokohama that has a huge freaking Buddha carved into stone which I would LOVE to see. I would also like to see Mt. Fuji, but there are no climbing programs in the wintertime so that’s not as important to me.
But tonight, when I get in and settle in it will probably be about 8:00. I’ll call Mackensie and see if she’s around, see if my phone even works in Japan. If I can’t get in touch with her or Jeff I’ll just wander around Tokyo myself.
AHHHH I just got so excited. ME. TOKYO. TOGETHER. OMFG.
8:00 is more than enough to get in and walk around and just enjoy some sights, maybe see if there’s any street food around, maybe wander around
OMFG SO HAPPY!!!
Got to Japan. Was completely wrong in thinking that not knowing Japanese would not be a problem. Ending up saying “ASAKUSA???” to about 10 million people. There was a nice guy on the train with his mother who showed me to get off at the WRONG STOP I might add but still he really tried to be helpful. So when I got around later I realized that actually I was at the wrong stop so I got back on with a couple ASAKUSA????s later, and then when I got off the second guy this boy on the train, Takuro, followed me out trying to talk to me. It became quite evident that he only knew about 10 words of English and the same for me with Japanese, so when we met up with his friend, they were really sweet and actually walked me to the Chisun Inn. Takuro gave me his business card and I totally intend to hit them both up. I took funny pictures with them and told them what great tomodachis they are. The girl didn’t really want to walk me to the hotel, but the guy was totally nice. I gave them a hug afterwards and they were SO awkward about it haha.
It was funny, before I even got on the train I wanted to ask a cab to take me to Asakusa and thankfully remembered “IKURA DESU KA???” so I was able to ask him how much and found out that it would be almost all of my 30,000 yen. What the hell. So I took the subway instead and when I was asking the first two of 10 million “ASAKUSA??” this giant black guy came up to me and was like “That’s awesome” clearly thinking I am conversing with these Japanese women when really I’m completely floundering.
But now I’m here, in the hotel. It’s nice, kinda small and SUPER hot, but I’m just so happy to be here. I literally walked around for an hour and my face hurts from smiling so much. What is it about Japan??? It calls to me so.
It’s about 10:30 now, since we are an hour ahead. I have dates set to meet up with Jeff and Mackensie. I’m excited 🙂
Saturday, called McKensie at about 11 AM, from the hotel phone. Clearly not having a cell phone is gonna make life hard haha. She told me to meet her at the subway exit. She was late and so I started to use a pay phone to call her but she got to me in time. She’s really pretty, with short blonde hair and a bright red coat. Anyway she came and took me to this nice sushi place, even though she doesn’t eat meat (or tries not to, based on moral grounds) and we ate HORSE MEAT in sashimi form over the little ball of rice. Horse meat is chewy but not bad and, as I learned, rich in iron. I was so surprised to see 马on the sign, but it was true, it was really UMA. The table was rotating so we could grab little pieces of sushi off as we wanted and then we paid by how many plates we had at the end. Anyway then we went and got ice cream, green tea kind, and then afterward we went and got taiyaki, the little fish shaped pastry with red bean inside, which was delicious, and then the little mochi balls on sticks which was decidedly NOT haha.
Then she had to go to work in Shinjuku, where she teaches English and religion to kids. So I went with her to Shinjuku and got off and looked around but it turned out that you really can’t get anywhere without a map. So I spent like two hours finding a bookstore and then finding an English map. Seriously, not knowing Japanese was completely debilitating. I was extremely surprised how important knowing Japanese turned out to be. I can’t believe I just wrote that, I’m no better than any normal American tourist now. Anyway so I bought that map and walked up to Takashimaya, a huge mall. Before buying the map I went to the department store with Uniqlo in it and found a nice little shop where I bought a little porcelain dachshund and some nice earrings. It totaled over 1000 yen, these two purchases. EXPENSIVE. HOLY SHIT. But it was worth it!
Then I walked over to nearby Shinjuku Gyoen and managed to get there just as it was closing but to be honest I didn’t feel that much of a loss over not seeing a park. I had no phone so I arranged beforehand to meet McKensie at the one exit at Shinjuku station, the largest subway station in Tokyo and also by far the most confusing. I mean I hate everything about Tokyo subway but this is just the worst, haha. Anyway so I met McKensie and then we went to a 270 yen store at the top of a place, we had our own private little table and lots of paper windows around us. We bought all sorts of stuff. They gave us edamame, then we ordered soft tofu that you were supposed to sprinkle salt on, then SQUID GUTS (gross. One of the few foods that I couldn’t eat, it was cold and HARD and slimy!! Blech) and then we also had a couple eggplant dishes and this really good Japanese fried chicken that was my favorite there actually.
McKensie says that the Japanese custom is on Christmas Eve, to buy cake and get a KFC bucket of chicken. WTF.
So halfway through she says that she is texting her Indian friend Nick, and that he will meet us. She directs him to the wrong place at first so we just meet him at the station after we finish and decide to go to Shibuya together, the Times Square of Tokyo. We meet Nick and he’s really tall and attractive. We joke about how I hopped the gate apparently once so my card stopped working. We then walk up and get to the square and the cool thing about this one street, right in front of Starbucks, is that when all the people start walking all at once in all directions, it is really cool to watch. So we watched that and took a picture, and then we went to Starbucks because we intend to stay up really late. I got a white chocolate mocha and the other two got coffee and pastries. So anyway we go there and chat a while and I’m surprised how easy it is to talk to them! It’s really nice actually. Anyway the lady comes over eventually and tells us that we can’t take pictures from the window (which is code for TIME TO LEAVE, since apparently the Japanese are never direct about anything). So we leave and go to this little bar and sit there, and I get this Cassius berry mixed drink that’s really good. Nick is really nice, and he considers going out with me as I am going out with Jeff and his other friends.
Anyway we go back to the station so I can meet Jeff. Jeff is tall and very confident-seeming. He is an alpha male. He is a white guy from Philadelphia. We go into Starbucks to meet the other surfers, Justin and Jessica, and also his friend Vook.
Justin is ethnically Hongkongese, lives in Japan, grew up in Alberta Canada, and speaks all three languages fluently. He’s really snarky but I find him hilarious. His cousin is Jessica, who is a big Hong Kong girl who is really sweet-natured. Vook is Jeff’s Australian friend, but I found out that he is originally from Montenegro / Serbia, which is AWESOME. He even speaks Serbian.
Anyway so we go to the grocery store to buy liquor. I don’t partake, but everyone else gets jars of plum liquor with the plums still in the jar. It’s weird. I tried it and it wasn’t bad. Then we wandered to the club at which Jeff had +4 people, so me, Vook, Justin, and Jessica all got in for free, as well as Justin’s beautiful Japanese friend Ayako. So anyway we went and this club is just awesome, a hundred chandeliers hang from the ceiling and there are multiple levels. I go there and we start dancing. I buy Jeff a drink to say thanks for the free tickets, which prompts him to say, I’ve never been in Japan and a girl has bought a drink for me. So that’s nice. Anyway we are there from roughly 12:30 until 5 AM when it closes.
Creepy Indian guy staring at me! As well as weird white kid who told me it was crowded like ten million times. I GOT IT, DUDE. Dancing with Jeff, not sure if interested or just flirting with every girl there. Most likely that. Vook does not dance with anyone, neither does Ayako. I watched Justin grind with Jessica, HAHA. I dance dirty with Jessica a lot. Everyone is 27 or older, btw. One point it is Jeff, Jessica, me, and Justin HAHA, Justin is an awkward dancer but he seems like he would be good if he just tried.
Anyway so yes at the end we decide to leave and Jeff convinces all of us to go to KTV at like, 6 AM. Before that happens Justin walks Ayako to the subway station and we meet this weird, flaming Turkish guy who Jessica totally falls in love with. He is wearing a fur coat that he made himself since he is a fashion designer, studying in Germany. His voice is absurdly high and like I said, he’s SUPER GAY.
So we go to KTV but when we talk to the guy standing outside in the street it turns out to be mad expensive so we just go to a bar. But at that point J+J want to leave since they are tired, and I leave with them because I am getting off with them and I don’t want to have to figure out how to get back by myself. We stop at an udon noodle place and I get udon with raw egg on top as well as tempura chicken, tempura squid and the little rice ball in the sweet soy skin that sometimes comes with the sushi. Then we took the train back and they helped me get there, and I was talking to Justin on the way back while Jessica slept and he said how he moved to Japan when he was 23 because he loved a Japanese girl but now he isn’t with her so he doesn’t know what he’s doing with his life. Sad
Finally I came back! Now I’m here and I just emailed Takuro, that guy that helped me out coming out of Asakusa.